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Pret a Manger's CEO Started Out Making $3 an Hour at McDonald's When He Was 16 Pret CEO Pano Christou, 45, spent 19 years climbing the ranks at Pret, from assistant manager in 2000 to becoming chief executive in 2019.

By Sawdah Bhaimiya

Key Takeaways

  • Pret a Manger's CEO Pano Christou started his career at McDonald's when he was 16.
  • He was paid $3 an hour as a "crew member" but gradually rose up the ranks.
  • Other successful people have started out at McDonald's, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images via Business Insider
Pret a Manger CEO Pano Christou (left) and Prince William speaking during a visit to Pret A Manger on September 7 in Bournemouth, England.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Pret a Manger's CEO started as a crew member at McDonald's making just over $3 an hour.

45-year-old Pano Christou spoke with Fortune about his career progression and admitted that he "fell in love with hospitality," on the shop floor at McDonald's when he was 16 years old.

"I'm in a very different situation now – but I don't forget that £2.75 ($3.40) an hour was the starting point of my career," Christou said in the interview.

Christou was paid more than £4 million ($4.95 million) including salary and bonus at Pret in the year ending December 2021, per the FT.

The Pret chief went viral on X in September after a screenshot of his LinkedIn profile was shared online. It showed his ascent from working as a "crew member" at McDonald's to becoming a store manager.

He later spent 19 years climbing the ranks at Pret from assistant manager in 2000 to becoming chief executive in 2019 accruing nine promotions during that time.

Christou attributes this success to his hard-working parents. His half-Greek and half-Italian father worked as a mini-cab driver, while his Greek-Cypriot mother worked as a nurse.

"My parents didn't have lots of money. But what they did have was a phenomenal work ethic," he told Fortune.

"I think there's luck along the way but overall, if you work hard and you are very intentional, you can achieve things," he added. "I am a big believer in you make your own luck."

Christou said his successful career is partly down to saying yes to every opportunity that came his way.

During his time at McDonald's someone who was supposed to become a shift supervisor was fired and he ended up taking the spot at only 16 years old.

"Whenever new, bigger opportunities have been given to me I've always taken them – I've never said no – even if it really puts me out there," he told Fortune.

Like Christou, other successful execs and celebrities started out their careers at McDonald's including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

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